French President Emmanuel Macron accused his rival Marine Le Pen of being a Russian puppet who would start a ‘civil war’, during a head-to-head presidential debate
He claimed that banning the Islamic veil would spark “civil war” in France, even though a majority of French people still support the ban.
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Le Pen, who supports a full ban on the veil, said she was “not carrying out a war against their religion.”
MSM reports: Headlines across France highlighted the success of Mr Macron’s attack, with Le Monde likening him to a boa constrictor who had ‘suffocated’ his rival.
A similar lead on Sunday would see the 44-year-old romp home to win his second five-year term of office.
The snap Elabe poll found Mr Macron was ‘more convincing’ than Ms Le Pen, 53, after he said she was ‘in the grip’ of Moscow and using it ‘as her banker’.
He added her National Rally party took out an £8 million loan from a Russian bank in 2014, which it is still paying back.
Ms Le Pen argued her party ‘had no choice’ over the loan, because ‘French banks would not lend to us’.
Insisting she was ‘free and independent’, she said: ‘I offer my solidarity and absolute compassion to the Ukrainian people.’
The most explosive clash came when Ms Le Pen confirmed she was sticking to her controversial policy of banning Muslim women from wearing a headscarf in public, describing it as a ‘uniform imposed by Islamists’.
Macron responded: ‘You are going to cause a civil war if you do that. I say this sincerely.’
While Mr Macron, a pro-European centrist, has a growing and significant lead over the nationalist firebrand, the result is expected to be closer than five years ago.
The pair kicked off a final flurry of campaigning on Friday, hoping to mobilise millions of hesitant voters before the weekend media blackout imposed for Sunday’s election.
Both candidates launched attacks in interviews before a heavy schedule of walkabouts, with Ms Le Pen insisting that opinion polls giving her rival the lead would be proved wrong.
She told CNews: ‘A win for Macron is not inevitable.
‘He calls millions of French voters the “far right”… and for him it’s an insult.’
She said she had never shown hostility towards his supporters and accused him of ‘not liking’ the French.
For his part, Mr Marcon said Ms Le Pen was trying to mask an authoritarian ‘extreme right’ platform that stigmatises Muslims with the plan to outlaw headscarves and ‘to abandon the founding texts of our Europe… that protect individuals, human rights and freedoms’.
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